This is a German-style sourdough rye bread that you can find in just about any bakery in Germany (yes, with spelt flour). It’s a wonderful option for open-face sandwiches and served with soup. It is a lighter rye bread and doesn’t contain cocoa or oats, like sourdough dark rye bread.
While this does, of course, have a tighter crumb than a white flour loaf, I don’t see this as a negative. Most German breads are more dense and – shockingly – they also have lots of flavour. Adding alternative flours like rye, and spelt, reduce the gluten content but make for a fantastic tasting loaf.
With a low-hydration dough like this, it is easier to work with and doesn’t stick to work surfaces as much. Keep in mind that mixing needs a bit more elbow grease, but apart from that, it is simple in terms of mixing and shaping. The dough is slightly stickier due to the high rye content.
This recipe is adapted from my spelt sourdough bread. That post has an accompanying video that may be helpful if you’re unclear on some of the methods used here.
- Rye Flour: use whole grain or sifted rye (more on this below).
- Spelt Flour: I recommend using light spelt for this recipe, no matter what type of rye flour.
- Sourdough Starter: any 100% hydration starter made with flour that contains gluten.
- Water: room-temperature. If your tap water is unpalatable, you can use filtered.
- Sea Salt: fine grain if possible. The salt amount shouldn’t be changed.
Notes and Substitutions
I typically make this with sifted rye flour, but whole grain works too. It will make the bread slightly denser but the flavour is excellent. I haven’t tried using white or standard wheat flour to sub for the spelt.
There is not a very significant oven spring for this loaf. The dough rises primarily in the refrigerator and then not as much in the oven, so please keep this in mind. It is rye bread.
Scoring is optional, and only really needed here to control the way the bread rises during baking. Without scoring, the top usually cracks slightly instead.
To store, simply place it in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for 3-4 days. I usually keep it in the same pot it’s baked in. To freeze, individual slices are ideal and can be thawed during the toasting process.
The dough will seem too dense and firm to stretch and fold, but it isn’t. You might need to pull and shake it a bit during the stretches, but it gets less hard as you work with it.
More Ancient Grain Sourdough Recipes
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Sourdough Rye Bread
- 300 grams water room temperature
- 100 grams sourdough starter 100% hydration
- 300 grams light (sifted) spelt flour
- 250 grams rye flour
- 10 grams sea salt
- Add the water and starter to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the spelt flour, rye flour, and salt to the bowl, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix until a shaggy dough forms. Finish mixing with your hands to fully incorporate the flour. The dough will feel quite hard and dense, this is normal.
- Cover the bowl and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
- Once the dough has rested, begin your stretches and folds. Do three rounds of stretches and folds over the course of an hour, once every 20 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball or boule by placing it onto a clean surface and using your hands to rotate until surface tension forms.
- Line a banneton or round bowl with a tea towel and sprinkle with flour. Place the dough upside-down into the prepared basket.
- Cover and set aside to rise at room temperature for two hours. The dough should visibly rise during this time.
- Place the dough into the refrigerator overnight, or for at least eight hours. Cover with a plate to prevent drying.
- Place a heat-safe dutch oven into the centre rack of your oven and preheat the oven to 250°C (480°F).
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and score with a sharp knife (scoring optional).
- Carefully remove the dutch oven from the oven, remove the lid, and place your loaf into it, using the parchment paper as handles to lift the bread.
- Place the bread into the oven and reduce the temperature to 230°C (450°F).
- Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until browned to your desired degree.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pot for ten minutes before carefully removing the bread and cooling fully on a wire rack. It must be completely cool before slicing. For this loaf, I recommend cooling for a minimum of eight hours.
- Store the bread in the pot you've baked it in, or freezing individual slices and toasting to thaw.